The Meq Paperback – 7 May 2004
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The Meq, subtitled "A Lyric Fantasy" is the first novel from American country-rock musician Steve Cash. The flavour is refreshingly unusual, with a secret race of childlike immortals--the Meq--groping after a lost heritage while decade after decade of human history ticks by.
The narrative of Zianno Zezen begins in 1881 America on his 12th birthday. It's the first of many 12th birthdays, since Meq age no further until they find love and consciously choose to go on through puberty. Z's parents, who made that choice, are soon killed in a tragic accident, leaving the boy with hints of Basque "but more than just Basque" descent, and a cryptic Meq contact name.
Befriended by a travelling Jewish entrepreneur and sort-of-adopted by a St Louis boarding-house keeper who moves into the more profitable trade of brothel madam, Z finds life full of violence, exotic colour and elusive magic. He dreams strange dreams and carries a talisman he doesn't understand. He meets other eternal 12-year-olds living among the dangerous "Giza" (mortal humans), surviving through special talents and centuries or sometimes millennia of experience.
Long and almost dreamlike searches recur. Through 12 years at sea, Z seeks an ancient fellow-Meq nicknamed Sailor. In New Orleans, with a friend, he tracks a Meq who has gone bad and wreaked atrocities on Z's adoptive family. Later hunting covers huge tracts of China, and then--for nine years more, in Tuareg disguise--the North African desert. "Do not think ahead, the Sahara will not allow it." In the background, the First World War is now being fought, and it's over before Z reaches a temporary stopping place.
All this makes for a remarkably charming and compelling read, with history and fantasy twining together--there are glimpses of Jesse James, Oscar Wilde, Scott Joplin and the young TS Eliot. The childlike immortals' leisurely attitude to time is imagined with some power. But as the 20th century wears on, they may be dying out...
Many mysteries remain, a hissable villain is still at large, and sequels to The Meq will follow. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Steve Cash's impressive debut crosses understated fantasy with an elegant not-quite-coming-of-age story' GuardianSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
As the story progresses, Zianno and the other Meq characters are revealed by their thoughts and actions to be not quite human. Their lifespans stretch across many centuries, so they can afford to think long-term, also the actions of ancient enemies such as the Phoenicians are still fresh in their collective mind. However, they also curiously inconsistent, one minute acting with great urgency as they attempt unsuccessfully to track down the psychotic killer Fleur du Mal, the next embarking on a long dreamlike trek that may take years and not accomplish very much. Zianno and a companion start a search that takes them all over north Africa, and at one point he suddenly realises that six years have passed with no result!
The characters of the Meq are strangely insubstantial, and I would find it difficult to describe the personal attributes of Zianno, Sailor and the others. They tend to drift in and out of the story, and at times I lost track of who was present and who was missing. The Giza (human) characters, such as Solomon the Jewish trader, seemed to be much more vivid, on the whole. Occasionally historical figures such as Scott Joplin or T.S. Eliot appear in the narrative, but generally the Meq are caught up in their own quests and crises, and do not actively involve themselves much in the wider human realm.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I already have a proper copy of this book but bought this one for a friend. The book I received is actually an Advance Uncorrected Proof with a white cover and DEL REY written all... Read morePublished on 27 Mar. 2009 by Charmed53444
After being a long time fan of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils I was prompted to get this book. I LOVED IT. I haven't read a book like this in a long time. Read morePublished on 22 May 2004 by Alfred Dodson